A delegation from the United States arrived in Beijing today for what many expect will be tough negotiations over trade, with both countries threatening tariffs in an escalating stand-off in recent months. The U.S. delegation includes Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow. China signalled this week that it would not back down in the face of American pressure, and there were already indications that Chinese officials may travel to the United States next month for further talks.

On Chinese social media, meanwhile, authorities sought to remove speculation about how contentious negotiations might become.

The following message, posted to Weibo by Singapore’s Lianhe Zaobao at 9AM this morning, was deleted within three hours:

[Difficult negotiations, China-US trade delegates will find it tough to reach a consensus this week] U.S. media believe that this round of negotiations will have little chance of eliminating divisions between China and the United States, because both sides plan to meet force with force. U.S. delegates have already prepared for a hard-line posture, and therefore did not according to custom send personnel to Beijing in advance for preliminary consultations — rather, they prepared to reaffirm U.S. concerns face-to-face during negotiations, forcing China to agree to move more quickly on deeper structural reforms.

Lianhe Zaobao currently has more than two million fans on Weibo.

The following is a screenshot of the Lianhe Zaobao Weibo post on trade negotiations as it appears in the WeiboScope archive: